NASCAR America: How did Brad Keselowski make it to Miami?

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When he was interviewed on NBC after Sunday’s Can-Am 500 at Phoenix Raceway, Brad Keselowski looked more like a guy who had lost a close race than someone who just earned his way into this Sunday’s championship round at Miami.

He knew he had a rough day. He knew he had a car that wasn’t fast. The Toyotas were much faster. And had it not been for Chase Elliott taking out Denny Hamlin late in the race, going to Miami was the last thing that would have seemed likely for Keselowski.

He should have been more excited and animated, but it was more like Keselowski was just happy to get there barely.

Here’s part of what a dour-looking Keselowski had to say after the race:

“We probably had great speed at Martinsville, great execution at Texas and great luck today. You would like to have them all on the same day. That’s really how you win. … We knew we didn’t have the speed but just tried to be smart and put yourself to a position to have an opportunity for good things to happen. We caught some breaks.”

On Monday’s NASCAR America, analyst Jeff Burton gave his take on Keselowski’s race and also what he and the rest of the No. 2 team need to do at Miami:

“I think their good moment was pit strategy to pit when no one else did, and when other people pitted, he stayed out.

“I wonder if that strategy moving him within four cars of Hamlin, whether that go in Hamlin’s mind when he was racing Elliott.

“I wonder if that kept enough pressure on them to put them in an uncomfortable situation and then make the ultimate mistake.

“They did not run well. There’s no sugar-coating it, they ran bad, never had speed the entire weekend. You could see it in practice, they kept looking, kept searching.

“None of the Penske cars ran well at all, very surprising that they ran so poorly at Phoenix. Now they have to regroup, just have to put it behind them.

“They did what they had to do, they’re playing with house money, so to speak, and just go to Homestead and get all they can get.”

Check out more of what Burton had to say in the above video.

Watch: Championship 4 drivers share thoughts on Miami outcome

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After 200 laps Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, William Byron claimed the Xfinity Series championship in his rookie year by finishing third in the Ford EcoBoost 300.

He finished ahead of his JR Motorsports teammates, Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier, and Richard Childress Racing’s Daniel Hemric.

Watch the above video for Byron’s first interview as a NASCAR champion.

Below are interviews with the remaining Championship 4 drivers.

Elliott Sadler

Sadler placed eighth in the race after contact with Ryan Preece with less than 10 laps to go cut a tire on his No. 1 Chevrolet. It Sadler’s fourth runner-up result in the points in his Xfinity career.

Justin Allgaier

Allgaier finished 12th in the race after struggling for most 300-mile event. He was competing without his primary crew chief, who had been suspended for the race. Chad Knaus, the seven-time champion crew chief in the Cup Series with Jimmie Johnson, helped out on the pit box for the No. 7 Chevrolet.

Daniel Hemric

Hemric finished last among the Championship 4 drivers in 34th after his No. 21 Chevrolet experienced battery problems early in Stage 2. Hemric spent 12 laps on pit road before returning to the race.

JR Motorsports sweeps top three in final Xfinity Series standings

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William Byron finished third in Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 to give JR Motorsports its second Xfinity title.

The team, co-owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr., swept the top-three spots in the final standings with Elliott Sadler placing second and Justin Allgaier in third.

Daniel Hemric placed fourth after finishing last among the Championship 4 drivers in the race.

Race-winner Cole Custer ends the season in fifth.

Click here for the points results.

Results, stats for Xfinity season finale at Miami

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Cole Custer led 182 laps to win the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It’s his first Xfinity win and the first series win for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Custer swept all three stages of the race and beat Sam Hornish Jr., William Byron, Tyler Reddick and Ryan Preece.

Byron clinched the Xfinity title with his third-place finish.

Click here for results.

Devastated Elliott Sadler watches another title chance go away

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HOMESTEAD, Florida — Elliott Sadler’s fourth runner-up finish for the Xfinity title in the last seven years was a pain he had not felt before.

“I’d say tonight is the most devastating and down and out I’ve ever felt in my career,’’ Sadler said after finishing second to JR Motorsports teammate William Byron for the championship.

Sadler’s anger was directed at Ryan Preece, who slowed Sadler by challenging him for position and stalling Sadler’s momentum as Sadler tried to hold off Byron for the championship in the final 10 laps.

“We were in position to win this championship,’’ Sadler said. “We were there. He raced me hard and held me down and (Byron) got a run on us and he let (Byron) go. Very frustrating.’’

Byron took advantage by diving under Sadler and passing him. Sadler tried to get by Preece but made contact that caused his right front tire to go down. Sadler finished eighth, losing the championship to Byron, who placed third.

“To be that close and not win a championship is frustrating,’’ said the 42-year-old Sadler, who has not won a title in any of NASCAR’s top three national series. “I don’t have many years left, and I wanted to try to fulfill a childhood dream. I didn’t know it was going to come down to a guy that’s not even racing for anything to hold us down like that. No respect at all.’’

Preece said he was racing for something. He was in the No. 18 for Joe Gibbs Racing to compete for the car owner’s title.

“I’m just doing what I’m doing for Joe ,’’ Preece said. “They told me to race for the owners championship.’’

Sadler didn’t buy it when told what Preece said..

“He wasn’t because (Sam Hornish Jr.) was half a lap ahead of him,’’ Sadler said, referring to the Team Penske car that won the car owners title. “He wasn’t racing anybody.’’

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